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LONDON GRAMMAR We See Red

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The Perth International Arts Festival presents London Grammar at Red Hill Auditorium on Thursday, March 5, 2015. BOB GORDON reports.

Dan Rothman is in London, fielding some phonecalls from Australia. It’s rare moment at home given, well, 2014’s global demand for London Grammar, but the guitarist takes it in his stride.

“It’s reasonably rare, yeah. It’s funny, I always seem to be at home when I’m doing Australian interviews on the phone. It’s rare inasmuch as I’ve not been home for this long a period. I’ve been home for about three weeks and this is the longest I’ve been home in about a year-and-a-half. Which is cool.”

Do you spend half of that getting used to being home?

“If anything you get used to not being at home,” he laughs. “It’s been a real whirlwind, kind of crazy year and obviously a great one. It was really, really enjoyable… but an experience, to say the least.”

London Grammar were last in WA for a set in January down in Busselton at Southbound. It was memorable, in more ways than one

“I got ridiculously sunburnt that day on the drive to the festival because I didn’t really fucking know that you could get sunburnt through a window in Australia, but you can,” Rothman declares.

“You can get really fucking sunburnt and I didn’t have any sunscreen on. So I had the sun shining through this fucking window on my face for about two hours, then I walked into the festival and I walked in and MGMT literally laughed at me. That’s my main memory, though I think we had a fucking nightmare of a technical issue at the start of the show too, so it was an interesting one, to say the least (laughs).”

That’s life, however, for London Grammar, who since the release of their debut album, If You Wait, in 2013, have spent their time arriving in new cities and dealing with what the land upon.

“Well occasionally it can be bad if you get really sunburnt,” he laughs, warming to the theme, “but it’s normally okay. Unfortunately you don’t always get to see a lot of the places you travel to, but I did get to see a lot of Australia because I purposely went out there two weeks before to have a but of a holiday, which was a real highlight of what I’ve been able to do this year. So that was amazing. So it’s been great; I’ve been to lots of places. I’d never really travelled before so it’s been cool.”

Given that 2012 into 2103 was a reflective time for the trio, spent in the studio, the last 12 months in comparison to the previous have been poles apart.

“Well it’s been a long time since we’ve had any real time off” Rothman notes. “It’s nice to feel a bit normal again and try to get back into the swing of things. We’ve had bits and bobs we’ve had to do since we’ve been back and we’ve working on music as well, which has been nice. So getting into that has been interesting. You need just as much time to adjust at home as you do when you are moving. You’re fucking schlepping around everywhere. You get used to that. Now it’s getting used to being stuck in one place, but that’s been good so far.”

Most 20-somethings, however, schlep around in share houses. The three members of London Grammar have  learnt much from each other through this.

“Exactly,” he laughs. “I think you learn a lot about each other an you learn what kind of pisses each other off for a start and then what doesn’t. You also learn more deeply about how you feel in the band and what you’re capable of doing and not capable of doing. What you enjoy doing and what you don’t enjoy doing when it comes to work. That is really just something you have to figure out over time, because when shit happens as quickly as it has for us, you have no time to learn, you just get thrown into it.

“Suddenly you’re not just in a band, you’re running a business – a tour, an entire operation that is moving around the world. It isn’t easy, especially if you’ve never done it before and obviously the gigs and the music is what drives it and that’s what comes naturally and is what we love so much. It’s the other stuff around it that takes more getting used to. Bt you learn and adapt. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to do and we’re very privileged to be able to do it.

“We’ve stayed good friends and we love each other more now than we did when we started. That’s a nice place to be. We’ve learnt to love each other in a more positive way. That’s important.”

In the midst of all this is the thought of a second album and the shape it will eventually take.

“I think the sound of the record and the way in which we’ll develop the songs will be immediately very different because you just can’t make music at that level anymore without a different feeling about what you’re doing,” Rothman ponders.

“Suddenly everything has a different mentality about it because you’re making a  record for the second time and you don’t have the same amount of time to write and do it all. You’re writing it with expectation, which makes it more difficult – the expectation of what’s to come from other people.”

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